The 2016 edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné moved into it’s fourth day of action in France on Wednesday, with a stage that on paper looked like it might favour a sprint finish.
After the start in Boën-sur-Lignon, the riders tackled a steady climb with two category four summits, before a descent into the second half and the category two Côte de Sécheras.
Situated 20km from the finish in Tournon-sur-Rhône, the climb featured sections at 14 per cent and was used as a launchpad for several attacks from the peloton.
German Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) was the first to break free, but he was reeled in by a chase group that featured Fabio Aru (Astana), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and Mikel Landa (Sky) among others.
With only a handful of seconds lead, the sprinters’ teams caught them up – only for Aru to launch another attack, which would this time stick.
Aru soloed out front and managed to defy the sprinters as they accelerated behind him to the finish line, winning the stage by a slim two-second margin.
All of the major contenders finished in the main peloton just behind Aru, with no change to the make-up of the overall top 20.
Thursday’s stage four is again billed as a relatively flat stage, but a slight uphill kick to the finish in Belley may once again upset the pure sprinters.